In my eight plus years at TFP, I’ve engaged in more value conversations than I care to count. Most have gone reasonably well; at the end of the process, our value selling team—usually my client, their customer, and me—can usually produce an effective financial analysis that helps the customer understand the potential value of my client’s technology in their environment.
The occasional engagement has gone sideways. Periodically, I look back at those conversations and wonder what I could have done differently. In some cases it wasn’t going to end well no matter what I had tried. It might have been a “hail Mary” ROI to rescue a floundering deal. Or the customer wasn’t really engaged in the first place, and wasn’t willing or able to devote the time to make the process useful for anyone.
Are Cloud Options Lengthening Enterprise Sales Cycles?
With a public cloud provider popping up in many technology sales, enterprises are faced with an even more complex variety of acquisition options regarding how to license, support, host and pay for the solution. How these options line up can have a significant impact on budget, short- and long-term cost, and receipt of business value. And getting your prospect to choose can have a huge impact on the sales cycle!
For the enterprise account manager, communicating the business value nuances of selling with and against the public cloud can be a key to streamlining the buyer decision making process. (more…)
Not too long ago I bristled when I overheard a colleague tell a salesperson that it’s never a good sign when a company buys back their own stock. Upon reflection, I was more likely stuck on the use of the word “never” (a trigger word that “always” gets to me) than the negative ramifications of buybacks. In addition, after several months of doing business alignment reviews, I’ve observed company after company report in their 10-Ks that they are taking a substantive portion of the US corporate tax gain as fuel for share repurchases. Needless to say, I’ve come around to my colleague’s point of view.
Have these corporations lost their collective vision for strategic growth initiatives and innovation? Or are we, the enterprise sales community, failing to develop compelling business cases that point to technology ROI and long-term shareholder value that justifies such investments? (more…)
We’ve all heard or even say in jest “Have I got a deal for you” with a wink and a smirk. In today’s commoditized and competitive environment, most of us are conditioned to compare raw product prices instantaneously on the internet, from high-end technology products, to designer clothing and shoes, to toothpaste and tissue paper.
We often default to focusing on discounts right off the bat when we talk to our clients about our product and services because it seems to be the key priority for the customer and a short cut to a quick close.
How many times have you thought you had nabbed the deal of the day, complete with the lowest price and 5-star ratings, only to find that what you got when you open the box does not resemble anything you saw in the little picture, the pieces don’t fit together, or the product does not work as advertised.
Ultimately, as intelligent buyers, we should be looking for “value,” of which price is only one of the components. (more…)
In the course of our performing ROI work on behalf of our clients, we often run across financial models produced by other analysts. Sometimes they are done by our competitors who previously delivered value selling support for our clients. Sometimes they are done by internal value analysts employed by our clients or by reps who produce cost justifications on their own.
The quality of these ROI deliverables can really vary—occasionally they are pretty good: clear, clean and persuasive. And often they are less successful—they lack credibility or are visually distressing. Yes, we are triggered by ugly financial models.
We can spend hours talking about best practices in producing and delivering effective ROI analyses to support sales opportunities (and sometimes we do!). But today I want to focus on one ROI best practice that value selling deliverables like “black box” online calculators lack: transparency.
I’ve developed this unusual habit of getting up early on weekend mornings to review financial statements (or as we refer to them in the US, 10-Ks and 10-Qs). I grab my backpack and sneak out of the bedroom, doing what I can to not wake up my wife who often has a cat on either side of her. One of both of the cats usually take notice and then do what cats are known to do…nothing. I walk past my freshman daughter’s room (she rarely awakens as she is typically doing her art until two or three in the morning) and then past my man-child’s room (he’s only 12 but nearly six feet tall). I make it to the coffee pot to turn it on, checking the time to estimate whether my wife will wake up before it shuts off in a couple of hours or if I should plan to bring her coffee in bed that morning.
I’m not a stock broker, though a number of my friends can never quite remember what I do for a living and assume it has something to do with investing. I am a consultant in the enterprise software industry and among the many roles I play, I am a business value analyst—pretty exciting, eh? In this role, my job is to connect technology solutions to business value. Ten to fifteen years ago, that mostly meant delivering a return on investment (ROI) analysis based on current state data for the prospect and forecasted future state based on the proposed solution—quantifying how it was going to reduce costs, increase labor productivity and/or drive revenue. (more…)
What we haven’t discussed to date is the impact of subscription pricing on value selling. Should you be adjusting your value selling methodology and practices when you sell subscriptions? What changes and what stays the same? And what should I do differently if I want to be successful?
Are you ever in the middle of a sales opportunity with your client and frustration hits an all-time high? No matter which way you slice it or how much you thought you had prepared, you just can’t get the customer to see the value in the solution? We are on opposite sides of a large canyon – how do I get them over to the other side? My goal is always to resolve a customer’s problem. Now, how do I get there?
Recently a CEO I know, Jessica, spoke at an event I attended. She was telling the story about a girls trip she took for her friend’s birthday. This wasn’t a spa trip by any means. Most people would be happy heading to their favorite Mexican spot for tacos and fresh lime margaritas, but not Jessica’s friend. Nope! Her friend wanted to take a hike. But, it wasn’t just any hike–she wanted to hike rim to rim at the Grand Canyon – in one day. For those of you who don’t know about rim to rim, hikers have been known to die on this journey. There are warning signs prior to entering the Grand Canyon that you should not do the hike in one day.
The traditional Chief Information Officer role is under threat. You may think this statement is an exaggeration, but consider this: CIOs used to strategically manage and deploy the IT assets of the company, making data accessible only to specified employees and not to others, according to predetermined, and often inflexible, business rules.
Today, digital opportunities like building multi-channel customer experiences, harnessing social data, and enabling super-fast decisions powered by real-time data have become critical. CIOs are finding it harder to exert as much influence as they had in the past. Other line-of-business heads like sales management, marketing officers, and newly- created roles like digital business and data officers are all taking a hands-on attitude in purchasing tools relevant to them, often helped by developments like cloud, subscription, and bring-your-own-device. The CIO is increasingly finding that she is losing part of her relevance. (more…)
Ipsa scientia potestas est. This phrase came from Sir Francis Bacon in Bacon’s Mediationes Sacrae in 1597. It means “Knowledge itself is power,” and it offers valuable guidance to technology sales professions.
For a B2B sales executive, these words especially apply to reviewing a prospect’s 10-K. In this short discussion, I will demystify the effort it takes to review and interpret a prospect’s financial statements and provide a short overview of the structure of an annual report and the 10-K.